Habitat and Cultural Protection and Stewardship

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Habitat and Cultural Protection and Stewardship

Our operations touch many parts of the land and watersheds of Nova Scotia.

Committed to habitat and cultural resource protection and stewardship, Nova Scotia Power looks for opportunities within operations to address areas of habitat and cultural concern with a focus on Protection, Preservation and Recovery.

NS Power works to maintain habitats with the protection and recovery of endangered species and species of concern through ongoing participation in recovery teams, monitoring and studies. Areas of cultural concern including archeological sites, and cultural heritage resources are areas that Nova Scotia Power works to preserve, protect and address potential impacts of its operations.

NS Power works in collaboration with the KMKNO, Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, Province of Nova Scotia and the Museum of Natural History, Parks Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and others in communities across the province to cohesively administer a program of protection and stewardship.

Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora monitoring program

The Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF) is a group of 90 species of taxonomically unrelated wetland plants that are found on lake and river shores, bogs, fens, and estuaries. In Nova Scotia, these plants are at the Northern extent of their range and some are only found in Nova Scotia. The majority of ACPF in Nova Scotia are located in the South-western region, primarily the Tusket River watershed. Twelve of these plant species have been identified as "Species at Risk" and are federally and provincially listed and protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), and around half of the others are identified as ‘at risk’ or ‘sensitive’ provincially.

NS Power actively supports the ACPF recovery efforts through participation to Recovery Team meetings and stewardship monitoring programs. Since 2011, NS Power and the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) have worked in collaboration to monitor 10 lakes identified as critical habitat in the ACPF Recovery Strategy. The field work portion of this work is now complete, and a variety of parameters that were recorded will be used in future species recovery planning and habitat management.

Blanding’s turtle and eastern ribbon snake monitoring program

In Nova Scotia, Blanding’s turtles and eastern ribbon snakes are found in and around Kejimkujik National Park, and therefore, there is potential for them to be found in NS Power’s Tusket and Mersey Hydro Systems. Both species are protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. Both species prefer wetland habitat, which is often on lakes shores, and due to their similar preferences the two species are often considered together.

NS Power actively supports the Blanding’s turtle and eastern ribbon snake recovery efforts through participation in Recovery Team meetings and stewardship monitoring programs. Since 2008, in collaboration with the Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Ribbon Snake Recovery Teams, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Nova Scotia Environment, NS Power has engaged in a 10 year monitoring program to assess long-term trends on the Tusket River watershed. In 2015, the Medway watershed, including McGowen Lake on the Harmony Hydro System, was added to the project. Using capture methods and radio tracking technology, this work helps assess the presence, distribution and abundance of this rare species throughout these watersheds, as well as the presence of favourable habitat conditions.

The results of these monitoring projects will feed directly into the Recovery Strategy for these rare species. The field work portion of this project is a collaborative effort between NS Power’s Environmental Services and the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI).

Bat Studies

Where did all the bats go? You may have heard recent reports of over 95% of our small bat species being killed by a fungus that is attacking them during hibernation.  Nova Scotia has lost a large proportion of Little Brown Myotis, Northern Myotis and Tri-coloured Bats due to White Nose Syndrome over the last few years. The fungus which appears to be passed between bats when they congregate to hibernate disturbs their hibernation and can cause them to die due to dehydration or starvation.  These three species have now been listed by the Species at Risk Act and the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act.

NS Power in collaboration with Dr. Hugh Broders participated in a regional study to help identify bat migration routes, hibernacula (winter colonies) and maternity roosts in Nova Scotia. Knowing that some species of bat travel around the province from season to season (and therefore in and out of a traditional study area) we used acoustic methods in addition to tagging and tracking bats to gain a better understanding of how far they travelled and where they went. The work we commissioned is now complete and it contributed to Saint Mary’s University province wide bat study.

During Environmental Assessments, we continue to assess bat presence and activity at potential wind farm sites, and carry out post-construction studies to assess presence at the site once construction is complete.

Cultural Resources

NS Power continues to engage with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, KMKNO and the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq communities to understand the cultural significance of the lands, resources and waterways within operations, and address potential impacts to areas of cultural concern.  NS Power works closely with the Province of Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage Division, responsible for the administration of the Special Places Protection Act and the protection of archeological sites and cultural heritage resources.